Sunday, June 11

How to celebrate Persian/Iranian New Year

Traditional haft-seen table. Left to right: Flowers, shamrock, coins, samanu, sumac, vinegar, senjed. Center: apple, egg and garlic on a mirror.

I was in the fourth grade the first time I remember celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year. My dad let me and my brother stay home from school that day to celebrate. If he’d made this great academic concession any earlier in my life, I don’t recall. But I do remember that we had a long-distance call with our Iranian relatives, four goldfish swimming around in our kitchen and that we tried to balance an egg. According to a myth that transcends geography, eggs will balance vertically only on the vernal equinox – the first day of spring – which is the day the new year is celebrated, falling on Sunday, March 20, this year. 

I don’t remember if it worked. And – fun fact – eggs can balance vertically any day, not just on the equinox. But it was a magical taste of mythology. As an adult, my passion for my heritage has deepened. I host Nowruz parties now, where I make food and I invite friends and we eat it together. Every culture has its special ethnic food and traditions, and the sharing of them makes that culture more accessible. I would invite you all to my Nowruz party this year if I could, but since I can’t, I will tell you everything I can about it here instead. 

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